Safety was not the reason to cancel the Euroleague season as you all know already. Terraces are opening in Spain and Italy (2 of the most affected countries by Covid-19), people can go to the beach, life is coming back to normal in the majority of the European countries.
Solutions to play safe the Euroleague were many: Montenegro (the first COVID free country since more than 3 weeks ago), Serbia, Greece, Lithuania – all of them have expressed their desire to host the final tournament. But let’s see what actually happened and why the Euroleague was cancelled, even if the board was building our hope that the season will reopen:
- many American players have gone to the USA and some of them didn’t want to come back to rejoin their teams. It was a bad strategy to promise them 80% of their salaries if they won’t come back and 85% if they come back. For 5% they have chosen to stay home. It had to be 85% or 10% and they would have come back. Nevermind, the Euroleague could go forward even without those players.
- Many teams were financially affected by the Coronavirus and they had serious problems with paying the salaries in the absence of the ticket sales and other sources of money. Zalgiris have released all their foreigners, Nick Calathes will leave Panathinaikos, Jimmer Fredette left and many other players wanted to make the same move. Olympiacos was in a bad situation too, with Spanoulis injured and very little hope to reach the Final4. Fenerbahce did not pay their players since December, so for them cancelling the season came as a relief. CSKA lost some sponsors and they had to cut the budget a lot. And anyway they were the reigning champions so they didn’t care much about the new champions. Baskonia is not a rich club and was not a title contender like all the teams above that were against the resumption of the season. So for them, it was better to cancel it.
- There was no solidarity and no fair-play for the teams that wanted to continue the season: Anadolu Efes, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Maccabi Tel Aviv. The final tournament could be played in safe conditions but the other 7 teams with A license in the Euroleague didn’t want to make the effort to travel to Belgrade or Athens or Kaunas to be simple spectators for the other 4 teams’ battle for the trophy. They knew they had no chance to win. Maybe PAO would have come with 9 greeks and 2 Americans, Zalgiris only with Lithuanians and so on. Maybe it would not have been the best roster for some of the teams but it would have been an act of Solidarity and Fair-play. Those teams wanted to safe some money – perfect, I understood that, but then assume as well the consequences and don’t be a coward killing the hope of other teams to win the Euroleague title. Come, play and lose! And watch the Final: Anadolu Efes – Barca!
From my point of view cancelling the season was an act against the teams that invested a lot of money to reach the Final 4, against the sponsors, but more than anything an act against the solidarity in European basketball. No fair-play at all!